While the German Luftwaffe had 70 military air bases and airfields spread around Berlin and Brandenburg alone at the end of World War II, the newly created Air Force of the East German NVA seemingly wasn’t so focused on (re)establishing its air power. By 1989, the NVA had established 8 Airfields in Berlin and Brandenburg – one of them being the Flugplatz Löpten, 55 kilometers south of Berlin.
Klein Köris and Löpten
Like so many of the small communities, villages and municipalities in Brandenburg, the history of Klein Köris follows a well known pattern. Slavic settlers settled in the area between the 2nd and 5th century, and over the centuries the land was won, lost and traded between nobles. Groß Köris itself was first officially documented in 1546 and had a moderate population – which was decimated in the 30 years war.
By 1717, Frederick William I of Prussia had shown significant interest in Klein Köris as well as the nearby settlement of Löpten, to be more precise, in the woodlands that belonged to the settlements and bought it to use as his own personal hunting grounds.
The development of both villages up until the the early 20th century is rather unremarkable. Both villages attracted new settlers and established small businesses over the years – but no significant industries aside from a brickyard and farmlands were ever established. Both Klein Köris and Löpten were damaged at the end of the second world war, and briefly occupied by the Soviet Red Army.
As a primarily agricultural village, Löpten – like all other villages in the area – was affected by the “Bodenreform” – a forced collectivisation of all farmlands under the Soviet Occupation. By the late 1950s, the 27 farms that belonged to Löpten were merged into a Agricultural Production Cooperative.
NVA Flugplatz Löpten
Between 1966 and 1969, the Peoples National Army cleared roughly 70 hectares of woodland on the eastern edge of Löpten and began construction of the Flugplatz Löpten. The construction crew built a barracks for the Aircrews, as well as a fuel depot and an munitions bunker. Now while the Flugplatz Löpten is labeled as an “Airfield” – its true purpose was to serve as a so called “Ausweichflugplatz”, an alternative airfield. It was never meant to be staffed by a squadron full time, rather it was to be used for training and emergency situations.
For this reason the Flugplatz Löpten didn’t get a tarmac runway instead it got two 2350m long and 37.5m wide grass runways, where only the take off and landing points were tarmacked. It wasn’t uncommon for military airfields to use grass runways – the Flugplatz Rangsdorf – one of the Nazi prestige Projects never had a tarmac runway, though I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would be to land with a jet on a grass runway.
While the NVA did construct a fixed taxiway, they clearly didn’t want to invest more than necessary when constructing the Airfield “Tower”. The construction crews used a prefabricated FB-3 bunker, covered it in earth and placed a small “shack” on top of it. Job done.
With construction complete in 1969, the Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG-7) which was based at the Flugplatz Drewitz (close to Cottbus) took over the Flugplatz Löpten for training purposes.
The East German Jagdgeschwader 7 traces its origins back to the 1952 – 4 years before the establishment of the National People’s Army. In August of 1952, the GDR (covertly) established the “Fliegerregiments der 1. Fliegerdivision Cottbus” which was based in the city of Kamenz and trained with loaned Soviet Jak-18 aircraft. By 1953, the unit was moved to Drewitz where it would stay until the dissolution of the GDR.
Over the years the JG-7 was supplied with aircraft from the soviet Union, progressing from Jak-11 to MiG-15 and MiG-17 and ultimately operating over 40 MiG-21M aircraft. In 1971, the Jagdgeschwader 7 was awarded the honorary title “Wilhelm Pieck” after the first and only President of the GDR who was born in the nearby city of Guben.
Flugplatz Löpten (Klein Köris) Video
As always, we decided to shoot a few video sequences and a bit of drone footage of the Flugplatz Löpten. Theres not really much to see on the ground, and there really isn’t that much more to see from above, but you do get a nice feeling for the sheer size of the taxiway as it cuts through the forest.
Flugplatz Löpten after German reunification
By 1989, the National Defence Council of the GDR decided to follow the example of its brother countries and scale down its military. This had the effect that by October 1989, the JG-7 was disbanded and the majority of its aircraft scrapped. After the german reunification, the FLugplatz Löpten was briefly used to store retired NVA military equipment before. it was sent off to be scrapped.
The large munitions bunker was acquired by a munitions disposal service, which apparently uses it to temporarily store recovered explosives. Unlike the airfield and bunkers in the forest, the former munitions bunker is highly guarded and secured. As for the airfield itself, it was left abandoned (not that there was much to leave in the first place).
The Flugplatz Löpten did get a brief revival in 2007 for the movie “Valkyrie”. While Brandenburg is littered with old abandoned airfields (like Rangsdorf and Oranienburg), none of them were seemingly suitable as a stand-in for the airfield at Hitlers “Wolfsschanze” – until they found the Flugplatz Löpten. The runways and taxiway were renovated and a real Junker Ju-52 was used to land at the abandoned airport. It was the first time in 18 years an aircraft had landed there, and it would also be the last.
The Flugplatz Löpten Today (2022)
Visiting the Flugplatz Löpten is a truly unspectacular affair. While some bunkers remain, they’ve been mainly repurposed as illegal dumping sites. The small tower still exists, as does the bunker that it stands on, but its filled with trash as well and not really worth exploring. While the grass runway is somewhat overgrown, the taxiway is quite fun to walk along – though decide for yourself if you want to walk all 2.3km of it.
Lots of mushroom hunters and families on bikes seem to use the taxiway for their sunday excursions, which seems to be the smartest choice of exploring the airfield. By itself, the Flugplatz Löpten isn’t really worth a visit, but there’s lots to be seen in the area (like the crash site of a Avro Lancaster Bomber) – so if one is in the area its worth checking off the list.
Flugplatz Löpten (Klein Köris) Address
15746 Groß Köris